May You Live in Interesting Times: Art of the Book
Click each drop down menu to read extended artist statements and see inside select pieces.
Click each drop down menu to read extended artist statements and see inside select pieces.
Endangered II, Endangered Volume III, and Popillia Japonica
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Studio artist/gallerist Alicia Bailey, is affiliated with several professional organizations and is owner/director of Abecedarian Artists Books in Denver, Colorado. She is also a member of Denver’s Spark Gallery. Alicia acts as an independent curator/juror, instructor/mentor and regional events coordinator in the book arts. In her studio work, she has focused on book and box arts since the mid-nineties, producing box works, artists’ books, sculptural books, limited edition books. Her work has been featured in dozens of solo and group exhibits throughout the world and is held in numerous public, private and special collections. An archive of her work is under development at University of Denver Penrose Library Special Collections.
In my studio work I create book and box works that often include elements beyond surface printed images and text; that move beyond traditional book forms and embrace presentation flexibility, innovative page folding tactics, rigid page construction and use of alternative materials. Most recently I’ve been paying more attention to a life-long love of wild and natural spaces and letting work evolve out of time spent in sparsely populated geographies throughout the American West.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Endangered is a series of artists’ books, each housed in a custom drop-spine box, the tray of which contains an assemblage, almost a mini-diorama, of various specimens. While the selected subjects of the series aren’t officially endangered, I think that much of the natural world is indeed endangered. That there are still specimens to be gathered without much effort or extensive travel helps me live with the despair I too often feel when considering the likely future of the outdoor spaces I love and thrive in.
Endangered Volume III
Part of an ongoing series Endangered Volume III uses pressed aspen leaves and an aspen branch gathered during the fall color change. It also includes a brief text about the fate of a particular clonal colony – Pando. Until very recently, Pando was thought to be the most massive living organism on earth; it now is believed to be the second largest. At around 80,000 years old, it is certainly one of the oldest. The specimens in this book aren’t from Pando, but rather from two other groves in the San Juan mountains that I’ve been regularly since the mid-70’s. My favorite groves are changing as well.
Endangered Volume II
Part of an ongoing series Endangered Volume II uses a partial skin shed from a bull snake, rattlesnake vertebrae and rattlesnake rib bones. I’ve never been afraid of snakes and delight in the sensation of a snake slithering along bare skin.
Bound in a long stitch over tyvek straps with an exposed spine, the three thick, rigid pages of this book along with the front cover include bits of snake bones and skin protected with overlays of mica. The front and back covers use a split-board attachment.
The book rests atop a plexi-glazed tray containing a bull snake shed from one of several snakes my great- aunt kept. The paper lining the tray bottom was made during a workshop with Mary Ellen Long in Telluride and has another snake shed embedded in it. The prints used in the text block are handmade sheets using pulp painting.
I spent part of a summer troubled by the arrival of huge swarms of Popillia japonicas (aka Japanese beetles), followed by amazement at what they left behind – delicate, lacy leaves as well as their own multi-hued, iridescent bodies. Curious, I learn that this species, invasive to North America, so easily thrives here because the abundance of cultivated turf provides the perfect winter breeding ground and natural predators, such as starlings, are discouraged in our cultivated landscapes. Efforts made to lure and trap them very likely attract more to an area so I did little to curtail their feeding frenzy, choosing instead to focus on the visuals. Images in this four page book are painted using a combination of gathered specimens, photographs and online images. Each painted image is backed with some of the visiting swarms lacy leavings.
Rising Hackles, Another Side, and Letting Go
The inspiration to my work is the seeming paradox of opposites. I am interested in dichotomies of all sorts as they live side by side in my own life, in that of others, and in the grander history of human kind: brutality and grace, coarseness and dignity, the beautiful and the grotesque. In my work each new piece is a kind of alchemic act towards living with this paradox. I like to see my work as a process of incompatibles not necessarily its resolution.
The book format offers an ideal formal space for the dynamic processes I am interested in: a space to unfold, perhaps separate, juxtapose, integrate and mediate. The intimacy of the book provides an environment for the unresolved and perhaps difficult processes I am exploring.
ABOUT THE WORKS
The accordion book “Raising Hackles” gave me an opportunity to unfold my outrage about the repetition of history in the context of dictatorial government tendencies and their use of language to implement abuse of freedom. The inspirational foil for me was the diary of Victor Klemperer a German author who survived persecution during Nazi regime and recorded his experiences through the lens of his intimacy with language as a writer.
My seven foot long book “Letting Go” began with a recent experience of downsizing my household and studio of 37 years. I had to look at what to keep, what to let go of and this daunting task left me with a pile of materials in my studio that I simply could not decide on. “Letting Go” is made of this pile of “undecideds”. It contains pages from every stage of my life as an artist and almost every medium or approach I ever took (hand paper making, intaglio, silkscreen, lithography, drawing, digital printing, letterpress). Binding the pages together with hair is a reference to life’s continuum: it is said that hair can be traced back to the DNA of its owner long after they have passed away. As I began working on this piece the narrative took a turn. My beloved father was diagnosed with only a few months to live. Building this book became a daily meditation on bidding good-bye to him and letting him go. With the accompanying grief came memories of other people and places that I had to depart from. Making this book became a way to merge with the flow of events and gradually accept the flow of life itself.
“Another Side/An Other Side” is a book that offers two experiences on a haptic level: an aggressive (potentially uncomfortable) and a sensual and pleasurable one. Both experiences are enclosed into one entity to offer the possibility of being two sides of one existence – or two entities cohabiting the same space. The translucency of the Abaca paper offers a hint toward the body as a possible container of this experiences.
In all of my artist books I see the viewer as the one who completes the narrative as they insert themselves into the process of unfolding the structure, turning the pages and using the book in their own time and space.
The Address, It is Mandatory to Complete This Section, and The Radiant Republic
ABOUT THE WORKS
The Radiant Republic
The Radiant Republic is an artist book about ethics and urban planning. The text at the core of the project is a city-building narrative comprised entirely of language excerpted from Plato’s Republic (c. 380 BCE) and Le Corbusier’s The Radiant City (1933 CE). In these original texts, separated by more than two thousand years, Plato and Le Corbusier each describe city plans which prescribe morality and ethics. These works are revered, but they are also deeply troubling, advocating the destruction of existing cities, the separation of children from their families, and the connection between city planning and warfare.
In The Radiant Republic, a five-part narrative describes the life cycle of an imagined city using unedited language woven together from the original sources. Each part is bound separately as a pamphlet, and contains one section of an interlocking landscape with no fixed beginning or end. Platonic solids, a set of five shapes made up of equilateral faces set at equal angles, feature heavily in the printed imagery. Since ancient times, these shapes have been held up as a physical manifestation of perfection of form. But one cannot create a perfect object, and one cannot build a perfect city. This is a book about the voices we value, the ideals they espouse, and the consequences of venerating their views. The Radiant Republic is housed in an enclosure made of wood and glass containing weathered platonic solids cast in cement.
Letterpress printed from linoleum and polymer plates in an edition of 50 copies in 2019. Papers include arches text and handmade Belgian Flax from the Morgan Conservatory. Box materials include Laser-cut birch plywood, cast cement, glass, and Dubletta book cloth. Prints related to this project were produced between 2017 and 2018.
It is Mandatory to Complete This Section
This folded map was produced during a period of separation. I culled the text from the many immigration forms that my husband and I have filled out and submitted over the last five years. This most recent visa application was approved, and we were reunited before printing was complete. I missed our son’s first birthday and his first few steps, but I am acutely aware that we are among the most fortunate of people, crossing borders with relative ease. So many others long for those they love without hope of such quick resolution. Families are separated by bureaucracy, lovers are separated by violence, people all over the world are separated by poverty, by malice, or by death. The simplicity of a line on a map does little to convey the impactful and often impenetrable nature of a national border.
Letterpress printed on Zerkall paper from linoleum, polymer plates, and metal type in an edition of 70.
The Address is a dos-à-dos pamphlet featuring the inaugural addresses of president Barack Obama and Donald Trump. This book was designed, printed and bound in collaboration with Anna Embree in an edition of 50 copies in January of 2017 in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and sister marches all over the world. All proceeds from the sale of this book were donated to the ACLU.
This second edition, letterpress printed on Mohawk Superfine and French Construction papers in an edition of 100, is now for sale for $55, including shipping within the United States. All proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
and finally I shall study these trees, like maps to an unknown treasure
My creative practice is devoted to care and listening across time. Through prints and artist books, I explore family and cultural histories, shared bodies of knowledge, and traditions of making – crochet, embroidery, paper-folding, and cut-paper work – that are passed between generations. Such matrilineal knowledge is not written down but is of the body – an embodied knowledge transferred between hands, in intimate settings. My current artistic research explores letter-writing as an act of relational care, in past, present, and future contexts. Through a practice of handwritten correspondences, I have come to think of letters not only as a way of exchanging thoughts and ideas but also as a form of active listening. Letters are an invitation to listen, almost a contractual agreement of care for another person. I believe that such listening is directly connected to a slowing down, a taking time to take care, and this quality is what I seek to reflect in all parts of the work. The letters I write and receive inspire drawings, artist books, letterpress prints, epistolary texts, audio narratives, and embroidery, drawing attention to the ways we care for each other with our words. The piece included in this exhibition, and finally I shall study these trees, like maps to an unknown treasure, stems from an ongoing correspondence with New York writer Derek Owens. I envision the unbound pages as part of an epistolary book being written across time and space.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Michele Bury is a designer and professor. Her recent work as a designer focuses on social justice and human rights in her interactive designs for the Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She has created a hands-on participatory experience of the articles, which invites a dynamic dialogue about civic and democratic engagement on human rights.
She is a co-founder of the Participate Collective with Dr. Price and Associate Professor Zenhari, which umbrellas creative projects around the themes of social justice. She co-presented her research at The Humanities in the Community: 2017 Convening of the Western Humanities Alliance at UC Santa Barbara. She co-wrote the published article Visual Narratives and Political Awareness.
She has worked internationally as a graphic designer since 1992, designing for Roundel Design Group, one of London’s top 10 design firms, and in Paris for clients including the Château de Versailles Museum. She has also worked as a digital animator for children’s television in Los Angeles. Bury earned an MFA in Animation from the UCLA School of Film.
Committed to social justice-based learning, Bury’s graphic design courses focus on understanding the influence and relevance of graphic design as a tool for social change. Her students have engaged in a number of awareness campaigns on social issues including homelessness, racial discrimination, and sexual assault.
Color File #1
Perseverance and Aunt Nat’s Big Book of Desert Creatures
I do not usually label myself an artist. I am a writer, trained in non-fiction creative writing at the University of Arizona. But the art of bookmaking pulled me gently into the visual arts in 2013. Since then, I have been designing and building handmade books under the auspices of Angry Owl Press (email@example.com) in Delaware, Ohio.
The form of my books oscillates between imagery and text. As a writer, I am often tempted to make books chock full of essays, to simply explain myself through words. But handmade books rarely offer the opportunity for viewers to sit for hours reading the artwork. Instead, a visually engaging work, accompanied by brief words, is more appropriately digested in an art exhibition setting. The works presented here are examples of this balance between word and image.
As for the content of my work, my books draw primarily on my experiences in the American Southwest. Since 2008, I have worked as a researcher studying astronomical practices of the Ancestral Pueblo people in the canyons of southeastern Utah. I grew up in the Midwest, but was quickly engulfed in the wonders of the desert and its ancient inhabitants. Some of my handmade books present this ancient astronomy work directly. The two works presented here engage with other observations I have made along the way.
Aunt Nat’s Big Book of Desert Creatures is a romp through zoomorphic rock art in the Southwest, including images from Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. Each rock art element appears to depict an animal or plant, interpreted as well as I am able (occasionally with the aid of Alex Patterson’s Field Guide to Rock Art Symbols of the Greater Southwest). I have paired these ancient depictions with photographs of living animals. The series of six books is designed to act as a child’s board books, using bright colors, simple labels, and sturdy construction. It is an educational tool to teach about animals and plants of the desert while also teaching about the people who lived in the Southwest within the last millennium. However, I also think of the series as a reflection on the way in which people observe animals and abstract them in their artwork. I have come to more fully appreciate rock art and its wildly differing artists through this endeavor to understand the symbolism at work across the Southwest.
Perseverance is a brief exploration of plant adaptations. During recent work in Utah, I noticed the great lengths to which desert plants must go to survive. In recent years, the precipitation in the Four Corners has fluctuated violently with deep drought in 2018 and deep snows in 2019, showing remarkable examples of plants surviving the dry years and thriving in the wet. As I captured images of these desert-adapted plants, I was led to learn about the variety of mechanisms that these plants have developed to allow them to survive. I was drawn to these examples of nature’s creativity and wanted to encapsulate the folding nature of a flower within the form of the book. The accordion book, with fly-outs, also allows me to display the variety of plants and survival strategies simultaneously. These plants lend me hope for the ability of creatures to survive the challenges of climate and environment that we will all face in the coming years.
A True & Exact History and A True & Exact History: a Reading
ABOUT THE WORKS
Winner of the 2019 Holle Award for Excellence in Book Arts, A True & Exact History is Sonia Farmer’s erasure of one of the most formative descriptions of the English Caribbean in the seventeenth Century, Richard Ligon’s 1657 guidebook, A True and Exact History of Barbadoes. Using the language, imagery, and thematic drives at the core of this text to disrupt the teleology of colonial Caribbean history, these unbound poetic fragments scattered among a shifting landscape simultaneously re-create and resist narrative as a device of cohesive history, ultimately calling into question what it means to write “a true and exact history” of anything. Published by Poinciana Paper Press at the University of Iowa Center for the Book in 2018 in an edition of 25 copies with the generous support of the Caxton Club. The poem is handset in Elizabeth Roman and the running heads and folios are handset in Van Dijck. Images lifted from Ligon’s botanical drawings, architectural plans, and topological map of the island of Barbados were reproduced in polymer. The book is entirely letterpress-printed on Lettra Ecru paper and housed in a handmade clamshell box. Untethered to linearity, the book can be encountered in multiple displays and formats, including in its box, shuffled and rearranged by the reader, mounted on a wall in a grid, or even heard as a sound piece using an accompanying script. Listen to a reading of her script here.
Volumes of Peculiar Memories
Volumes of Peculiar Memories
“Volumes of Peculiar Memories” combines many unusual childhood memories with my odd collection of mementos from this time period. These mementos are not traditional keepsakes but are curious objects that have captivated my attention to the point that they required ten volumes to complete this story.
Page number four is a good example of the spirit of this book. It features an odd pairing of bingo chips and a turkey diagram. This was inspired by my memory of winning a frozen turkey at the VFW Bingo hall when attending Bingo night for the first and only time. My memories are conflicted; the joy of winning something and the fascination of color on the translucent bingo chips mixed sharply with embarrassment of calling out “BINGO” in front of strangers and the oddity of getting a dead animal for my efforts.
This book illuminates the beauty and loneliness found in my memories. As an only child, I felt isolated. I spent much of my time observing the world around me. I was fascinated by discarded or outdated objects; their designs, physical weights, and tactile qualities. I could empathize with their loneliness. Isn’t it ironic that loneliness can be such a universal feeling?
Lilt and Whipstock
ABOUT THE WORKS
Lilt, a book object portrait, ghostly, memorializes my grandmother, Lil Gorham, who passed away on December 10, 2016. Using extracted text from Edward Tufte’s books on data visualization, Lilt gambols in the space between book & portrait, text as imagery, body as a 2D unfolding event—a person distilled into color fields & bits of a life recollected.
Can be unfolded and viewed on a table top, or hung on wall.
Letterpress printed on a Vandercook 219AB from photopolymer plates on Awagami Shin Inbe, & housed in a clamshell box.
This artist book was funded by a College Book Art Association Project Grant.
Whipstock captures the dueling iconoclasts of the Landman and the Ecologist as they move in and out of wheat fields, oil patches, courthouses and other haunts of the oil and gas industry. The book’s 36-page structure consists of two interleaved-pamphlets that form 3-page spreads of text, and eventually fold out into an 18”x18” imaginary landscape of compromise. Each page is numbered according to the corresponding section of the township and range grid printed on the cover (a grid that is used in the oil and gas industry to determine the well pattern on a particular tract of land). As the reader moves deeper into the book, the act of reading begins to mimic the movement of the whipstock (the now-antiquated tool used in drilling that transitioned the drill bit from a vertical to a horizontal position) as it proceeds down another layer of pages, and then traverses through the shifting text that is as physically activated on the page as it is musical. To close the book, the reader need only layer the pages back onto one another in the original order, as if to egress a well hole. Whipstock is the sum of excavating by man and machine, salt veins through the earth, and shiny metal containers leaking their dark iridescence as they slip down the highways. If this truth is difficult to find—it is, and the reader pages through the evidence. Letterpress printed on handmade cotton/abaca paper. Laid in a Japanese two-flap hard cover with title (once laser engraved, once incised) on two flaps
a comparative overview of rivers, quipu translation – America’s Heritage
a comparative overview of rivers is based on an antique German map comparing the lengths of rivers throughout the world. i was interested in the way that the map stripped the rivers down to their basic shapes in order to compare them and the almost biological quality the renderings take on in this context.
i chose six of the rivers and made linocut prints of their maps to further distill the rivers down to their shape. cutting the image into the lino block mimics the way that the rivers are carved into the earth. each print is a different length in relation to the river that it depicts. the prints are bound as concertina books. i chose the concertina style binding to reference the folds of road maps and how they wear over time. all six maps are housed in a partitioned drop spine box.
ABOUT THE SERIES
the quipu translation series takes a look at how our story is shaped by those who tell it. i was particularly interested in the how the history and experiences of Native Peoples are taught and understood in America. i began working on this series as a response to Indigenous Peoples’ Day (formerly Columbus Day) in 2018.
i found an outdated copy of the “The World Book of America’s Heritage” and from the pages made Japanese shifu thread. shifu thread is a traditional Japanese paper thread often made from the pages of books. with that thread i reworked the content in the form of a quipu. the quipu was a recording device consisting of knotted strings that was used in Andean cultures of South America. the melding of cross-cultural techniques points to the mixing of cultures and ideas that America has come to be known for.
The Walking Mountain
In his book Defiant Gardens, Kenneth Helphand talks of how the humanity in making a garden is highlighted most when they’re made in inhospitable conditions. I’m inspired by the temporary structures, improvised spaces, and impromptu gardens built by urban residents in the face of demolition and relocation. In my sculpture and installations, I combine industrial construction materials together with domestic and homely hand-made processes, including sewing, weaving, cooking, and gardening. I conflate and subvert roles: erosion and time with hand-built labor. Though people may consider gardens ephemeral, I think they are evidence of human sentiment that will endure and grow back.
My practice overall comes from my years living in New York, Seoul, and Beijing. The work invited for your exhibition, The Walking Mountain, is an artist book with text I wrote, shaped specifically by my experiences living in Beijing for 6 years and the changes my neighborhood underwent.
In his Mountains and Water Sutra, Zen monk Dogen teaches of the mountains’ walking—
4 Because green mountains walk, they are permanent. (5) Although they walk more swiftly than the wind, someone in the mountains does not realize or understand it. “In the mountains” means the blossoming of the entire world. People outside the mountains do not realize or understand the mountains walking. Those without eyes to see mountains cannot realize, understand, see, or hear this as it is. If you doubt mountains’ walking, you do not know your own walking; it is not that you do not walk, but that you do not know or understand your own walking. Since you do not know your walking, you should fully know the green mountains’ walking. Green mountains are neither sentient nor insentient. You are neither sentient nor insentient. (6) At this moment, you cannot doubt the green mountains’ walking.
During a time of violent tensions, I explore the dissonance through mixed-media works I make. Life against asphalt and concrete intersects with life alongside rivers and mountains. Common to these conditions is the need to carve out space through everyday creative acts.
“Still Time” is a mixed media sculpture that uses elements from nature combined with found objects to express concerns about the ongoing environmental and ecological changes. Although there exists many years of verified scientific research and studies proving pollution plays a large role in climate change and the ultimate consequences of climate change will be catastrophic, as of now, all of that is being treated as irrelevant.
We are in a political time when those in power refuse to accept what is scientific fact, that then allows them to rescind any regulation that has led to continuing improvements in the environment. Because this scientific evidence is available, but disregarded, I’ve used books (an icon for knowledge) turned upside down to represent this ignorance and denial of proven facts. The books are suspended in a vulnerable state, as is the future of our environment.
The use of old books is a means to reflect back on a time when people revered knowledge and trusted verified facts provided by professionals respected in their field. The bands hold the burden of the rock, which hangs precariously above the books, creating a looming sense of doom. A red twig and a twisted willow branch allude to the necessity to mutate in life’s struggle to exist. At the top overlooking it all, a dial-less clock face foreseeing the future, gives a foreboding warning.
“Still Time” asks you to consider what is happening now and what you will allow to happen in the future. Is there still time to save all living things on earth, or will you allow everything to go still?
this is not a love song
this is not a love song
this is not a love song explores the tentative nature of interpersonal communications. The piece operates as a book in the format of a Jacob’s ladder toy (carefully). As the book is opened, closed, flipped, reversed, repeated, and propped up, the narratives move forward and retreat backward through slight shifts in meaning. Conflicting perspectives travel in multiple directions, as visual, multi-pointed, cut out dimensions and conversing bodies of text.
Through closely maneuvered tautological statements and multi-faceted dimensional forms cut from the pages, an abstract narrative begins to take place. This calls into question the relations not only between the protagonist and the unrequited, but between reader and author, viewer and artist.
As a dimensional piece, the work explores the possibilities of narrative and the notion of text as object. The book is a never-ending cycle of revealing and obscuring text and image; it has no true beginning or end, and is always approached in medias res. Through this format, this is not a love song questions the persistence of personal relationships, and how unreliable our forms of communication are in sharing perspectives.
Equilibrium and Oleander
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Daniel Mayer is a Tempe book artist, award-winning public artist (Phoenix Sky Train glass murals and terrazzo designs, Terminal-4) and Directs the Pyracantha Press in the School of Art at ASU, since 1986. The Press is the independent publishing imprint for interdisciplinary collaborative and creative research. Press works are in over 105 national and international collections such as The Getty, Yale, Library of Congress, Wellesley, The National Library-Hague, Netherlands, and among others.
ABOUT THE WORKS
The two accordion books in this exhibition reflect Daniel Mayer’s investigation in books as works of art. Equilibrium is a topographic zig-zag accordion printed from a photopolymer relief plate at 12” x 23”, then hand-folded and cut down to 3” x 4” x 48”. The letterpress latitude and longitude coordinates on the book cover demarcate the Grand Canyon. The original image source is a Google Earth screen shot translated into a printing plate. The title Equilibrium implies creating a fair and equal balance in choices we make toward the environment, cultural awareness, and the timeless balance of the canyon. Mayer exhibits nationally and internationally and has works in numerous public and private collections.
Oleander is one of a series of three artists books and four prints published by Daniel Mayer, Director, Pyracantha Press, School of Art, Arizona State University. The original linoleum cut (2’ x 3’) is by Kurt Weiser, ceramic artist and Regent’s Professor at ASU. Mayer shaped the original prints into a zig-zag accordion book structure through hand-cutting and folding. This book form lends well to Weiser’s free-form visuals in a horizontal format that complements the prints. Book form concept, design, and production executed by Daniel Mayer in an edition of 10 copies.
Owens-Illinois Company Cakes
God, wrapped up and Handheld
Artist books are a more intimate view of what goes on in an artist’s mind than a lot of other artworks, usually more images than words. Although ideally, they would be handled, it’s probably not realistic in an exhibition. But, looking at them, their reference (for me) is to all of those books I’ve coveted to read, handle, and own over the years—an opportunity to step into a different reality.
ABOUT THE WORKS
This book is about a particular relationship—mine with my mother. There’s holding, containing, restricting—pages all bound by a muted, decorative frame (collaged) and sewn on two edges. The hand images are photocopies of my hands, reduced digitally and printed on transparencies. Some have little drawings added to the digital copy or on the underlying paper. The back of each page is a collaged collection of what I think of as childhood magic: sweet images that coat the surface of reality. They are glued on a drawing of mine that I cut up to serve as background. This book is a bit dark I think, but serves as a limited description…not an outcome.
God, wrapped up
There is an innocence in how children view God and religion. This book is based on what I thought as a kid, maybe what I learned, about God and church. The images are all digitally collaged from open sources (except for the one of me that I sneaked in). The baby Jesus and the angel figures started as a baby to stick in a Mardi Gras cake and glow-in-the-dark Christmas ornaments. I painted them gold, as they should be in church. I wanted the final piece to fold up like a box, but open in a semblance of a cross. It took a lot of calculating!
God and the accompanying stories all seemed a bit surreal when I was growing up, but I was quite taken with my interpretation and all of the imagery and iconography stored at the church my family attended. I’ve strayed quite a bit since then.
Via Dolorosa: From Sea to Shining Sea
ABOUT THE WORKS
Notes about- Via Dolorosa: From Sea to Shining Sea
Side A of the work depicts fences and maps of the entire US/Mexico border from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico with symbolic migrants/asylum seekers reinforcing it. The work highlights the plight of immigrants, the border wall, results of government prejudices, policies and disregard of human rights. This country is made up of immigrants like myself and it is richer for it.
Destroying the diversity of who we are as a nation, questioning Roosevelt’s four freedoms, disregarding damage to the environment, Native American burial grounds, etc., for the purpose of satisfying one’s ego and to grab power on the back of defenseless people
A herringbone accordion book structure with walls on both sides, each measuring 12”H x 6”W. The book is laser printed and open it measures 65”W x 12”H. The drawings are from elementary school children. The poem The New Colossus is by Emma Lazarus, 1883.
Open edition – Designed and bound by the artist Maria G Pisano – Memory Press © 2019
La Duree and Ars Amatoria
Inspired by French philosopher Henri Bergson’s interrelated concepts of time and consciousness, “La Durée” charts the course of a single experienced moment as it transitions from stimulus to storage, to memory and its recollection. Each printed page and iridescent passage is a fragmentary map of the mind’s eye and a window onto the unconscious processes that drive it.
Press On – A Rumination on the 5th Chakra: The Voice
My best works take the commonplace, infuses it with perspective shifts to end up with something that includes a multifaceted shock of recognition.
The synthesizes of three lifelong disciplines of study: the individual and collective movements for liberation and healing, parallel–macro micro systems of the body/mind and nature, and the wild explosive landscape of dreams inform my work.
I began as a dancer and performance artist, mixing movement and words: My art making began in dance and performance art mixing movement and words: Incest: It’s all Relative, Corpus Callosum, Wild Card Anatomy, and Sports and Art. Now, my primary forms are poetry and artist books. Artist books allow me to utilize everything, movement, words, and image making with any and all medium including letterpress printing.
I am now engaging in the process of creating seven large sculptural books representing the seven chakras or the seven sacred sites inspired by a dream. The “covers” and the contents came in flashes of inspiration at roadside yard sales and antique stores shouting to me “Hey look, I’m that book.”
Press On –A rumination on the 5th Chakra-the Voice is the first to reach completion.
Flavivirus, Flaviviridae and Morbillivirus, Paramyxoviridae
I am fascinated by the way that we constantly adapt to change and are continually reconfigured by our experiences and influences from the world around us. Our relationships are expected to respond to good and bad times, growth, challenges and change. As we mature, our relationships become complex, altered versions that have more layers, depth, and meaning. We may want to cover up experiences or parts of our lives, but remnants of those parts of ourselves are always there, in some manifestation, often peeking out from behind a front we have created. Exploring these guarded parts of ourselves and others invites intimacy, empathy, and understanding in relationships. I am intrigued with the process of creating, deconstructing, and then redefining a new composition to communicate the depth of our complex, multi-faceted lives and ever evolving relationships. My artwork references relationships from many different perspectives. Some of my artist’s books reference relationships in the context of food and drinks and their roles in celebrations, personal relationships and phobias and other’s responses to them. The new series I am working on investigates the structure of a book acting as a vessel for scientific research about viruses. As I read the news, I am inundated with stories of viruses and epidemics, such as the Zika and HIV viruses, that create fear in relationships with and for our partners, unborn children and anyone in our communities. The scientific research connection is represented by the petri dish shaped design and the clinical plexiglass covering. Most of the book has been concealed, showing only an embroidered and embellished textile piece created from found damaged quilt blocks. This speaks to the idea of the hope that scientific research can create a pathway for healing and mending from the effects that these viruses are having on relationships. The obscured content of the book also represents the many people suffering from these viruses that are anonymous. These textile pieces are stitched with the shapes of virus cell structures. These textiles refer to the history of embroidery, quilts and mending to repair and strengthen objects that have kept us warm and are created for celebrations and losses in our communities.
Hold Feet. Stay Green Lawn
“Memory is the most elemental thread of which the tapestry of experience we call reality is woven.”
— Maria Popova
Human emotions play a role in how the brain captures a memory. Not only do our feelings help encode the moment, but they are believed to aid in the recollection of the experience. Memory allows us to travel from clips of our past, influence observations the present, and envision the future. These elusive, ephemeral moments in our minds are captured through the intensity of our emotional states.
My work narrates the fusion between emotion and memorization. The intangible marriage of experience and response is conveyed through textile-inspired surfaces. Sculptures, collages, and paintings document the landscapes, individuals, and events of my personal journey. Overlapping columns and rows parallel the psychological dissection of experiences and correlating human feelings.
Piece-by-piece, the paper unravels into remnants. It transitions from sheet, to strip, and back to formal shape. As the paper fibers warp and weft into spatial and temporal narratives, the resulting patterns challenge the linear, left to right, top to bottom physical act of reading. Instead, a pixel-like network binds fragments of thought and are then viewed as a unified page. External influences weave over, under, and through my internal sentiments while abstract marks capture the essence of the environment.
Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream
ABOUT THE WORKS
Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream
Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream is a project that revolves around deconstructed pages from John Bunyan’s 1678 book “Pilgrim’s Progress,” a heavily didactic tale of how to live your life as a Christian. Names of characters from Bunyan’s text are applied to images of the artist as a child in non- chronological order to challenge the linear focus of aging. In doing so, Wilder applies the guise of 75 characters from Bunyan’s book to himself at different points throughout childhood. This project explores the concept of layered authorship. Feelings of nostalgia for a lost childhood are uncomfortably juxtaposed to a rejection of prescribed life trajectories based on religion, morality, and other factors of social construction.
This project began as an evolving, immersive installation during Aaron Wilder’s MFA studies at the San Francisco Art Institute. Originating as an introspective spin-off of a collaborative project called Relational Archives with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Paula Morales, and Juan Pablo Pacheco, Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream was a continuation of Wilder’s interest in exploring the subjectivity of an archive. Around this same time, Wilder’s family had recently sold the home he grew up in, which resulted in a need to amass, move, and review materials from his childhood. Also around this same time, Wilder found a copy of the book “Pilgrim’s Progress” in the “free” bin at the San Francisco Art Institute’s Anne Bremer Memorial Library. Since this was one of the first books Aaron Wilder remembers reading as a child, the simultaneity of re-discovering this book at a time of re-visiting his childhood memories resulted in the explorative experiment Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream.
After a full year of successive experiments, Wilder installed Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream in one of the brick vaults of the San Francisco Mint as his MFA thesis exhibition as part of the 2017 graduating class of the San Francisco Art Institute. Wilder completely covered the walls of this brick vault with overlapping, ripped out pages from different version of “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Wilder then projected onto the wall-mounted pages the 75 edited images of himself throughout childhood juxtaposed to the names of 75 characters from Bunyan’s book. Along with the visual projection was an audio recording of the artist reading texts from cards and letters sent to him by a religious authority figure throughout his life. An audio recording is paired with each projected image and character name. Along with this mixed media, immersive installation was a site-specific sculpture entitled The Burden of the Knowledge of His Sin, which comprised a child’s school chair haphazardly propped up by a pile of multiple versions of “Pilgrim’s Progress” that is illuminated by a floor-standing lamp.
After graduation in 2017, Wilder created a series of 75 digital mixed media collages pairing the imagery of the installation projections with overlapping scanned texts from the version of “Pilgrim’s Progress” Wilder found as an MFA student. The title of each collage stems from the audio paired to the image projections from the installation at the San Francisco Mint. Then, in 2019 Wilder completed the conversion of this project back into book form. Northern Arizona University Art Museum’s group exhibition May You Live in Interesting Times includes the 2019 book Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream and prints of 36 of the 75 digital mixed media collages. The book “Pilgrim’s Progress” was originally written in two sequential parts (the first being the voyage of “Christian” from the “City of Sin” to the “Celestial City” and the second being the subsequent voyage of Christian’s wife through the same route). May You Live in Interesting Times displays prints of the 36 digital collages that follow Christian’s wife’s journey.
Feeding Our Daughters, and What Is Home? (II)
What is our responsibility in dismantling the power structures and disrupting the social practices that uphold harmful and toxic attitudes, and how do we give voice to affected communities?
Studies by the American Psychological Association found that Asian American women have one of the highest rates of chronic depression and suicide ideation. The causes of this vary widely, but online communities for women in the Asian diaspora reveal that a major factor is the oppressive and patriarchal nature of filial piety, which is imposed on us from an early age. Filial piety’s historical intent was to create a social structure that would establish familial harmony and respect. However, its oppressive nature and negative view towards women led to daughters who have been verbally and physically abused, expected to maintain unrealistically high standards, and psychologically manipulated into fear and submission. The glorification of women’s virtuousness and chastity meant that daughters are frequently isolated from peers and forbidden from social activities–their bodies commodified as vessels of procreation and objects for the male gaze. Mental health problems are seen as a weakness of virtue and nature, thus family members often deny that their daughters’ mental health is at risk for fear of bringing shame and dishonor to the family name. These women fear speaking out as members of their own community shame them for voicing unhappiness, believing that it would label all Asian cultures and men as oppressive. These women are forced into cycles of invisibility in society and lack support for mental health care, even though centuries of such practices have led to generational and developmental trauma for many.
I am interested in the cultural narratives of, and resulting from, these toxic cultural beliefs from a historical and contemporary perspective. My work reveals and critiques similar values across cultures by relating my stories and the stories of Asian women to narratives outside of the Asian diaspora, and examines ways to give a voice to survivors, elicit empathy, and change these harmful social practices.
Rockbound Book: Elephant Canyon Volume, The Last Iceberg, and Rockbound Book: Snowline
ABOUT THE WORKS
Elephant Canyon Sandstone is a geologic formation found near the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers in Utah. The page layers interpolate the shape of the top cover rock to the shape of the bottom cover rock. The topography created inadvertently recapitulates the characteristic landform of the region: a mesa. Like stratigraphy, the book is both metaphor and form for the story of time.
The Last Iceberg
It may be that as the climate warms there will come a time when there is only one iceberg left. I envisioned it in “novel” form: both metaphor and structure — two “volumes:” the hidden and larger lower portion and the smaller visible top, bound and pinned spine-to-spine at what would be the water level.
The pages are shaped to create a 3-dimensional series of topographic pages defining an iceberg shape—a book intended to remind us of what we are losing.
Subtle white-on-white text is placed throughout the top book – frozen words that transition from the front (like “neve”) to liquid terminology (like “moulin”).
Perhaps there will come a time when books will be all we know of ice.
Below is a list of the terms that are on the “pages” of the top book of The Last Iceberg:
“sea ice/blue ice
sea water/blue water
Rockbound Book: Snowline
“Book-ended” slices of snowflake obsidian inspired this rockbound book. And once bound, it was clear there had to be a hand-stippled snow line, prompted by the materials.
This book was created by morphing the shape of the front cover to a mid-point shape and morphing the midpoint shape to the back cover in software. These files drove a laser-cutter to create the “volume” of the pages. The pages are stiff-leaf bound to the rock slices. The wooden case was also routed by a file combining the shapes of the front and back covers. I like to say that these books have no text because the form and the materials *are* the story.